Dale and Rachel live in Burgess Hill with their three children – Zara, Brooke and Jett. We chatted to them about their heart for church community and building relationships.
You’ve been at the church for almost 12 years now – how would you say God has changed you in this time?
RACHEL: I would say I am stronger in my faith – it’s moved from my head to my heart. I grew up in church but a realisation of having a personal relationship with God didn’t come until we came to The Point. However it took ages to let go of control and fully surrender.
DALE: More hunger, more fire!
Can you tell us about your experience of being part of a small group at The Point?
R: What you get on a Sunday and what you get from a small group are different; they complement each other. In a big church service there’s no space for discussion – in small groups you have the opportunity to learn from and encourage each other. On a Sunday you have quick conversations and you can’t talk to everyone – in small group you get to know people better and it’s where you can share things. When people really know you, they notice if you’re not ok and can support you – and you can be challenged too, in a good way!
D: You can be more honest with people you’re closer to. In a smaller setting you get to trust people and build deeper, more meaningful relationships. You realise other people aren’t perfect and are struggling too, which makes you feel better! It’s a network of support – prayer, emotional, psychological – support that you might not get otherwise. And it’s fun, hanging out with people.
R: Small groups are a good structure to facilitate friendships and build relationships. It’s finding people that you can be real with – it’s important to be real.
How has the church community supported you through difficult times?
R: When we lost our baby Esmé, just before she was supposed to arrive in the world, it was make or break for my faith – I know it made my faith stronger. One of the key things was the way that the church came around and supported us. If we weren’t surrounded by those who also have faith and could encourage and pray for us, I think it could’ve been a break. We had a community of people praying for us and I had a supernatural peace at the time. One significant verse for me was “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) which was highlighted for me in so many ways and through so many different people in church.
We had some really close friends we’d met at church who were our rock in terms of friendship. We could be really vulnerable and honest with them. Waiting for another baby was really, really hard, but we could pray with them, be honest and let them speak into our lives.
Why do you think it’s important to build relationships with others that share your faith?
D: With close Christian friends you can repent and say stuff you wouldn’t say in public when people don’t know you. God knows the real you, He knows the inside of your heart and no one else really does, because you can put on whatever front you want. Yet when you’ve got a meaningful relationship with someone you can be more honest and transparent, and that can help build a stronger relationship with God. You’re talking about the things you need to talk about and praying about the things you need to pray about.
R: Having people around you who encourage you to go deeper helps prevent you from becoming lukewarm in your relationship with God. If you surround yourself with people who are on fire, it helps keep you on fire; if you
don’t, you can quickly become cold.